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Rolla Reider, Rowla Rider

We Mourn One of Our Own, Me More Than Most

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, April 05, 1995.

One of the first people I went to see when I got out of jail in February was Rolla Reider, who was one of the owners of Westype Publishing Services here in Boulder. Rolla sponsored this program for several years in the 1980’s when both Dark Cloud and KGNU were grateful for it. More than grateful. We needed the money and I needed the brush of some kind of establishment support. I never met him till later, till after his support had droned on for a while without a single string, suggestion, or conversation to correct my thinking.

I finally puttered over to renew the contract, which he did, and we had the first of what were long and terribly infrequent conversations. Reider had done more in his life than most, had lived in Paris and hung with some altogether interesting sorts, from international hit-men to philosophers and street rebels. He was the Bohemian gone good, and his customers at Westype were of long duration and tended to be dependent upon his organizations’ fussiness and attendance to detail. In short, he was a necessary man in the professional lives of many people.

When I got out of jail, I puttered over to chat with him about my book that I was writing, a working manuscript of which I gave him to read. The next day his emphysema nudged him into the hospital, and I puttered over a few times to visit him. He looked markedly better, and we chatted about everything under the sun. He made efforts to be a happy man and, I suspect, he was. He could be unbelievably stubborn, no lack of recommendation round these parts, but he always could laugh. Even at the hospital, grumpily attached to those machines, he could laugh long and deeply. He seemed so much better.

So when I saw the notice in the paper this morning, my first reaction was that he was caught unawares, that he was tripped up, that he was taken by surprise. No frontal assault could have done it, he was too tough, his laugh too contagious. I suspect he preferred a full life to a long one, but there is no mutual exclusive at work there. He knew cigarettes had killed him before the heart went, and I think he was mad at himself for waiting too long to quit. But nobody could tell him anything, not Rolla Reider.

It’s tough to say goodbye to friends, especially gnarled, tough friends, and particularly eccentric tough, and loquacious friends.